Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A controlled trial of the Litebook light-emitting diode (LED) light therapy device for treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Paul H Desan1*, Andrea J Weinstein1, Erin E Michalak2, Edwin M Tam2, Ybe Meesters3, Martine J Ruiter3, Edward Horn4, John Telner4, Hani Iskandar5, Diane B Boivin5 and Raymond W Lam2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, PO Box 208068, New Haven, CT 06520-8068, USA

2 Mood Disorders Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

3 University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

4 Royal Ottawa Mental HealthCentre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

5 Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms, Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, P. Quebec, Canada

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BMC Psychiatry 2007, 7:38  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-7-38

Published: 7 August 2007



Recent research has emphasized that the human circadian rhythm system is differentially sensitive to short wavelength light. Light treatment devices using efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) whose output is relatively concentrated in short wavelengths may enable a more convenient effective therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).


The efficacy of a LED light therapy device in the treatment of SAD was tested in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center trial. Participants aged 18 to 65 with SAD (DSM-IV major depression with seasonal pattern) were seen at Baseline and Randomization visits separated by 1 week, and after 1, 2, 3 and 4 weeks of treatment. Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores (SIGH-SAD) were obtained at each visit. Participants with SIGH-SAD of 20 or greater at Baseline and Randomization visits were randomized to active or control treatment: exposure to the Litebook LED treatment device (The Litebook Company Ltd., Alberta, Canada) which delivers 1,350 lux white light (with spectral emission peaks at 464 nm and 564 nm) at a distance of 20 inches or to an inactivated negative ion generator at a distance of 20 inches, for 30 minutes a day upon awakening and prior to 8 A.M.


Of the 26 participants randomized, 23 completed the trial. Mean group SIGH-SAD scores did not differ significantly at randomization. At trial end, the proportions of participants in remission (SIGH-SAD less than 9) were significantly greater (Fisher's exact test), and SIGH-SAD scores, as percent individual score at randomization, were significantly lower (t-test), with active treatment than with control, both in an intent-to-treat analysis and an observed cases analysis. A longitudinal repeated measures ANOVA analysis of SIGH-SAD scores also indicated a significant interaction of time and treatment, showing superiority of the Litebook over the placebo condition.


The results of this pilot study support the hypothesis that light therapy with the Litebook is an effective treatment for SAD.

Trial registration NCT00139997